Islamist groups in Britain are “weaponizing” Islamophobia to silence legitimate criticism of Radical Islam, the country’s counter-extremism tsar warned.

The UK-based Muslim extremist groups “and their sympathisers weaponise Islamophobia in an attempt to shut down legitimate debate about Islamic extremism while undermining the general struggle against anti-Muslim hatred,” Sara Khan, head of the UK Commission for Countering Extremism, said.

The UK newspaper Daily Telegraph reported the counter-extremism tsar’s statement:

Hard line groups are “weaponising” Islamophobia and “cynically” using human rights to promote their ideology, the Government’s new counter-extremism tsar has warned.

Sara Khan said that Islamist groups accuse their critics of being anti-Muslim, in an attempt to undermine “legitimate debate” about extremism.

She said that the “use and abuse” of the language of human rights is “perhaps the most concerning” tactic employed by fundamentalist groups.

“Groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, for example – who traditionally rally against what they perceive to be western human rights – increasingly and cynically use human rights to promote Islamist ideology,” Ms Khan said.

The statement comes as Muslim activists and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK’s leading umbrella organization for Islamic groups, are campaigning against growing “Islamophobia” in the country. The group is urging the government to publicize “incidents of Islamophobia” and “carry out education and training on Islamophobia” for politicians.

Earlier this week, MCB launched a campaign to ban the American evangelist Franklin Graham from entering the country on grounds of “hate speech.” The group called on the government to “apply its criteria on hate speech to Graham’s visa request,” UK newspaper The Guardian reported. Graham is set to speak at a religious event in the city of Blackpool later this month. In the past, British Muslim groups have successfully rallied to keep Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller—leading American critics of Islam—from entering the country.

While Muslim groups are busy looking for traces of Islamophobia within the British society, Islamist recruiters are infiltrating UK college campuses and recruiting Muslim students for jihad. “We know there are and have been terrorist radicalisers, terrorist recruiters and terrorists active on campus who have recruited young men and women into terrorism,” UK Security Minister Ben Wallace disclosed earlier this year.

Mass migration from Arab and Muslim countries has made the challenge of countering Islamic terrorism even more daunting for the British security services. The UK is now home to some 23,000 potential jihadis, the country’s domestic intelligence service MI5 estimates. So far, around 450 battle-hardened ISIS war criminals have returned to the country after serving the caliphate in Syria and Iraq, posing a serious security risk. The country has been hit by a series of Islamic terror attacks, with last year’s terrorist incidents in London and Manchester killing 35 people alone.

According to former MI5 chief Jonathan Evans, Islamic terrorism has become a “generational problem” for the country and won’t be going away anytime soon. “I think on the terrorism side we are at least 20 years into this. My guess is that we will still be dealing with the long tail in another 20 years time,” Evans said in an interview last August.

With 130 British Islamists killed while fighting for the ISIS, Radical Islam poses a bigger threat to Muslim lives than perceived “Islamophobia.” Muslim community leaders need to stand up against radicalization in own their midst rather than police other people’s language and criminalize religious dissent.

Video: British-Pakistani talk-show host Maajid Nawaz wants the word “Islamophobia” scrapped

[Cover image via YouTube]